Look at me, posting on the right day. This week I’m sharing a little more of Everland, a project I’m slowly hammering away at. I had to pause so I could revamp the outline, and make sure the threads went where they should. That’s a slow process.
Anyway, here’s a bit of what resulted. And if you want to share anything for Sneak Peek Sunday, let me know. I’ll be happy to feature it.
Gary stood before the Great Wolf’s lair. It was really just a cave in the side of Mount Pleasant, which lay a few feet from the border of the Dark Forest. The grass outside the entrance was long, unkempt, and the flowers wilted. He smelled something strange in the air, but couldn’t identify its source. The whole situation sent the hairs on his neck up. Taking a breath, Gary put a hand on the hilt of his sword and ducked into the cave.
“Wolf?” he called. “You in here?”
“Go away,” a gravelly voice replied.
“Rumple’s worried about you. Said you might be wounded.”
“I’m fine. Go away.”
Gary continued into the cave. As he entered the large opening the Great Wolf called home, he stopped. The Wolf lay in a corner, blankets covering his large body. Only his massive snout was visible.
“You can’t be sick,” Gary said.
The form beneath the blanket shuddered, and the Wolf pulled the covering from his face. Gary stepped back. The Great Wolf, terrorizer of creatures great and small, had been crying. His gray eyes were bloodshot, and the fur around his muzzle was damp.
“Wolf, you’re… what happened?”
“Why do I do it?” The Wolf asked. “This is all I can think about, all that occupies my dreams. I see all the lives I ruined; hear their pleas for mercy, which I ignored, and then I cry for my misdeeds. What else can I do about it? I’m sorry for them. It makes no sense, I know. They always return, and our story begins again. Why should I feel sorry? What is happening to me?”
Gary shook his head. “I don’t know, but you need to get your shit together before anyone finds out.”
“Red offered her grandmother. Said she wanted a truce. Wanted to stop this constant battle of good and evil so she could live a normal life. Know what I did?”
Red did what? Gary blinked. It wasn’t possible. Red would never betray her family. And a normal life would kill her. It’d kill all of them. “You accepted?”
“No, but not because it goes against our story. I should have refused because I wanted to make Red miserable. This is my purpose, after all. But in the end, I didn’t do it because I couldn’t. It hurt my heart to believe Red had given up the fight. Crazy, right?”
Gary didn’t know what to do. The Great Wolf was the most fearsome creature in the Dark Forest. If he’d lost his desire to harm others, the balance of good and evil would shift. If Red had betrayed her grandmother, the balance shifted again. Of course, they might balance each other out, but who else had changed?
He recalled his conversation with Rumplestiltskin, and panic curled its icy fingers around his belly. Gary no longer felt like hunting.
Everland was dying.
Rumplestiltskin stood at the center of the graveyard. He strode over the perfectly maintained grass, his path a familiar one. Over the years, he’d discovered many things about the Normals, most importantly how their world kept Everland strong. The stories told and retold, the imaginations of its many inhabitants bending and twisting Everland’s reality, keeping the magic strong and building up its landscape to breathtaking proportions.
Everland’s decline could be caused by the loss of dreams in the real world, but Rumplestiltskin couldn’t imagine the Normals without dreams. Their imaginations gave them hope, kept them going despite the horrors facing them every day. They weren’t unlike Everland’s residents, in that they all struggled with good and evil. The difference between Everland and the real world was in how they fought the war. For the Normals, good and evil hid within each person. In Everland, one was either good or evil. No gray areas and no hiding what you were. While the potential for anarchy among the Normals intrigued Rumplestiltskin, he preferred his home; mostly because it lacked the permanence of death. Until now…